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About: Meet Our Writing Instructors

Office of Writing Instruction

Staff in our Office of Writing Instruction work with students throughout their coursework and into their drafting of preproposal documents for doctoral capstones. They provide writing instruction in paper reviews, at residencies, in webinars, on social media, and more.

Amy Bakke

Amy BakkeSenior Writing Instructor and Coordinator of International and Multilingual Student Writing Support

Amy Bakke joined Walden in August of 2013 after a few enriching years of traveling, working, and learning around the world. Her academic career started out at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she graduated with a BA in Spanish and Business. After working in business for a couple of years, she decided to return to school to pursue an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), which led to multiple opportunities to study and work abroad including two semesters studying and teaching in Chile as well as a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bulgaria. She thoroughly enjoys opportunities to work with students from diverse language backgrounds and cultures. Teaching and traveling have also given her the opportunity to develop her Spanish skills and understand what it is like to be an adult language learner.

Learn more about Amy B. in our blog spotlight interview.

Cheryl Read

Cheryl ReadWriting Instructor

Cheryl Read joined the Walden Writing Center in 2017. She earned her BA and MA in English from the University of Minnesota Duluth and has taught writing at a variety of institutions since 2009. She loves helping students figure out how they can best convey their ideas to an audience of readers and especially enjoys figuring out the organizational “puzzles” of works in progress.

Cheryl is currently working on a dissertation for her PhD in English at Duquesne University. She lives in St. Paul, MN.

Christina Lundberg

Writing Instructor and Coordinator of Student Communications

Christina received her BA from the University of Minnesota and obtained her MFA from Naropa University. Presenting over 6 years of college level teaching experience at various academic settings (university, community college, and technical college), Christina has taught a wide array of English courses both residential and on-line. Some of the courses she has taught include: business and technical writing, creative writing, composition, and grammar.

Christina is driven by the desire to grow, shape, and develop a page to reach its highest potential. In her position as a Walden Writing Center instructor, she enjoys witnessing the transformations of a good paper grow into greatness.

Originally from Minnesota, Christina, now, resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Claire Helakoski

claire helakoskiWriting Instructor

Claire Helakoski obtained her MFA in Creative Writing from Georgia College in 2015. She also holds a BA in Creative Writing and French from Grand Valley State University. Claire presented on the pedagogy of teaching writing at AWP national writer’s conference in 2015. She has also presented at the Michigan Academy for Science, Arts and Letters conference. Claire has taught English Composition, Literature and Creative Writing courses as well as acted as a writing center tutor, editor for Arts & Letters literary journal and a freelance copy and manuscript editor. In 2013 her work was nominated by Georgia College for the AWP Intro awards competition. She is originally from Michigan and lives in Grand Rapids.

Ellen Zamarripa

Ellen ZamarripaWriting Instructor and Coordinator of Residency Planning

Though Ellen was born in south Texas, she grew up in the upper Midwest and has been in love with the scenery, the mild summers, and the people of the Wisconsin/Minnesota area ever since. Ellen earned a BA in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, and an MA in English Studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

During her educational career, Ellen tutored in multicultural centers, academic skills centers, and taught composition for two years to first-year college students. These experiences allowed Ellen to work with students from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and age groups, which fueled her desire to educate using different teaching methods via different mediums. Ellen joined the Walden Writing Center team in July of 2014, and she is thrilled to be helping students from around the world develop their writing skills and reach their educational goals.

Learn more about Ellen in our blog spotlight interview.

James A. Horwitz

James A. HorwitzWriting Instructor

James received his MA and MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, having first earned undergraduate degrees in both English and Psychology. James has taught at the college-level for over 13 years and is passionate about: student-learning, mentoring, and helping student writers develop their work.

Jeannie Croichy

jeannie croichyWriting Instructor

Jeannie Croichy received her MEd in English Language Learner from Ashford University and BA in English Writing from William Paterson University of New Jersey. She is currently pursuing her EdD in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education at Concordia University-Portland.

Jeannie is a dedicated and well-rounded writing educator with extensive experience working with students from all over the world. With over ten years of teaching experience, Jeannie has experience in developing unique and innovative writing pedagogies to bring out the highest potential in students. She has taught writing courses in the first-year writing program at Bloomfield College, career development program for New York City’s Workforce1 Career Center, and ESL programs for various English language institutions. In addition to her teaching experience, Jeannie has experience as a college writing consultant as well.

Aside from teaching, Jeannie is a self-published children’s author. She lives in New Jersey.

Julia Shiota

julia shiota Writing Instructor

Julia Shiota joined the Writing Center in 2015 after completing her Master’s in English at the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s in English from St. Olaf College. She has been interested in education for years and has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of students. Her background includes teaching literacy skills to elementary school students and high school students, as well as instructing scholarly writing skills at the college and graduate level. Her academic interests include global Anglophone literature, modern Japanese literature, and critical theory.

Kacy Walz

kacy walzWriting Instructor

Kacy joined the Walden Writing Center staff at the end of 2016. She received her undergraduate degree from Gonzaga University where she double majored in English and History, and earned an accidental minor in Philosophy. After a year spent in the AmeriCorps service organization City Year, she completed her MA in English at Boston College in 2011. She is currently working on her dissertation for a PhD in English Literature from the University of Missouri. She lives in Columbia, Missouri but is a Minnesota native at her core.

Katherine McKinney

Katherine McKinneyWriting Instructor

Katherine McKinney has been working with students since joining the Valdosta State University Writing Center as a tutor in 2003. After earning her M.A. in English from Valdosta State University in 2008, she began teaching full time at her alma mater. Over the next decade, Katherine taught and tutored at a variety of institutions, including the Florida Institute of Technology, Valencia College, and the University of North Texas Health Science Center. In 2017, she joined the Walden University Writing Center as a writing instructor. Katherine’s goal as an instructor is to show students that the best writing results from practice, and she aims to provide feedback and resources that will guide students through the invention, composition, and revision process.

Matt Sharkey-Smith

Matt Sharkey-SmithSenior Writing Instructor
Contributing Faculty in the Academic Skills Center

Matt joined the Writing Center in 2010 with a BA in English from Saint John’s University in Minnesota. He earned an MFA in Writing from Hamline University in Saint Paul in 2011 and has worked outside of Walden as a technical writer, fact-checker, copy editor, tutor, and writing instructor. He lives in Minneapolis.

Max Philbrook

Max PhilbrookWriting Instructor and Coordinator of Social Media Resources

Max Philbrook has worked with graduate and undergraduate writers since 2008 and brought his experience and joy of working with students to the Writing Center here at Walden in 2015. The principle that has guided his work from the beginning is the belief that writing can create positive change in the world. He is a doctoral candidate in rhetoric and composition at the University of Missouri, and prior to his doctoral studies Max received degrees in English from the University of Minnesota Duluth (MA) and Gustavus Adolphus College (BA). Along with working in writing centers at each of these institutions, Max has volunteered in the community as a reading buddy in elementary schools and as a college application tutor for children of first-generation immigrants to the United States. He currently resides in St. Louis Park, Minnesota with his wife and cats.

Meghan Barnes

Meghan barnesWriting Instructor

Meghan K. Barnes joined the writing center in late 2015, after working both as a composition and literature instructor, and an educational project manager. She holds a BFA in Professional Writing & English, an MFA in Nonfiction Literature, and a MAT in Post-Secondary Adult Online Education. These degrees lead to multiple opportunities including a Fulbright Scholarship to study the nonfiction work of Sylvia Plath in England, three Pushcart Prize Nominations and four book publications.

As a writing instructor at Walden, Meghan works to help students master the tools needed to become critically literate citizens. She is excited to watch as her students grow and begin publishing within their fields.

Originally from the North, Meghan now resides in Charleston, South Carolina with her dog, Ziah.

Melissa Sharpe

melissa sharpeWriting Instructor

Melissa Sharpe earned her BA in English and MA in teaching English from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She has taught first year college composition classes and has worked in writing centers since 2010. Her favorite part of working with college writers is helping facilitate the writing process.

Michael Dusek

michael dusekWriting Instructor

Michael Dusek joined the Walden Writing Center in October of 2015. He holds a BA in English from the University of Minnesota–Duluth and an MA in English Studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Michael has taught composition at Minnesota State University, Mankato as well as University of Wisconsin–Stout. In his professional life, he enjoys working with students and improving their writing. The idea that an essay is expressive as well as formal is a cornerstone of the way he views writing. Michael believes that approaching a writing project as a creative problem-solving activity can alleviate apprehension that students often encounter. In his personal life, he enjoys the outdoors, books, music, and all other types of art.

Miranda Mattingly

miranda mattinglyWriting Instructor

Miranda Mattingly joined the Writing Center at Walden University in 2016. She earned her MA in English from Florida State University before completing her PhD in English at the University of Missouri. Her academic and research interests include visual culture, periodical studies, Victorian literature, and digital pedagogy.

Miranda has over a decade of experience working in online education and has taught a variety of developmental writing, composition, and literature courses at both public and private universities, community colleges, and in the online environment. When working with students, her primary focus is on encouraging students to have confidence in their skills as writers and to cultivate their voices as critical thinkers in an increasingly global community.

Originally from Kentucky, Miranda currently resides in Columbia, Missouri. When she is not working, Miranda enjoys biking, hiking, traveling abroad, and watching lots of college basketball.

Tasha Sookochoff

Tasha Sookochoff Writing Instructor

Tasha Sookochoff joined the Writing Center in the fall of 2017. She has a BS in Technical Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and an MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, with an emphasis on teaching composition, from DePaul University. She also has a graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from DePaul. Tasha is passionate about adult literacy, creating safe communities for women and minorities, and the convergence of education and technology. She has written documentation for the U.S. House of Representatives that increases government transparency, blogged for DePaul University, copy-edited the Journal of Second Language Writing, tutored immigrants and refugees at literacy centers, and taught academic writing to college students.

Veronica Oliver

veronica oliverWriting Instructor

Veronica Oliver received her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with an emphasis on community literacy and intersecting rhetorics of identity, from Arizona State University (ASU) in May 2015. Previous to attending ASU, Professor Oliver received a master's degree in rhetoric and composition (Southern Illinois University) and a bachelor's degree in theater (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Born in Minneapolis, Veronica grew up predominantly in Wisconsin, although she has also lived in Los Angeles and Chicago. As a writing instructor, Professor Oliver’s passion is guiding students with developing their ideas on paper.